Time to admit it: I am NOT Superwoman!
Lord knows, I’ve desperately tried to keep up appearances, what with everything in my life I’ve been managing to juggle for quite a while now, but it’s finally time to come right out and say I simply can’t keep doing this!
Specifically, through the “magic” of electronic pre-posting, I’ve been able to have both this blog and my facebook page “Back from Obesity” continue to have regular entries appear, day in, and day out, for many months. But now my backlog of posts are empty, and I’m too (pick one or more): stressed, tired, mind-boggled, overwhelmed, befuddled, freaked out, scared, panicked (etc) to attempt any type of coherent writing.
And why is that, you ask? Well, simply because my heart surgery is scheduled for this week, and I have far too many things to get accomplished to be messing with anything that isn’t absolutely “necessary” to do before then.
In other words, some things had to go, and writing a blog that my Statcounter app tells me so very few are reading is at the top of that list. So for the dozen or so who’ve been regular readers since January, 2009, thank you for that! And for others who’ve wondered what they’ve missed, now’s a good time to go back and see what I’ve been up to for the past SEVEN YEARS here!
A couple of my favorite highlights: In May, 2012, there was the accounting of the trip to Italy and Austria. In September of the same year, England and Scotland. In June, 2015 I photo-documented Korea, Japan and China, and last September I was off to Greece! But there’s more to my blogs than travels, and if you muck around in there long enough, you’re sure to learn a few things definitely worth knowing!
The past few weeks, I’ve been writing about my heart condition, which is understandably my primary focus these days, and right about now I’m gathering more info for the next series of “informational” blogs, wondering if I can convince one of the nurses to take a few pictures of the right atrial tumor-removal procedure for me…
So to borrow a few words from “Ahh-nold” Schwarzenegger, “I’ll be back!” and look forward to reconnecting with you then. Meanwhile, as I mentioned earlier, there are SEVEN YEARS of posts you can read through when you’re looking for something to keep you occupied this month.
Abundant blessings, Jan
A great number of sitcoms lately have made light of this very serious question. Or maybe I’m just acutely aware of them now that my own medical well-being is on the line.
A week ago on “Mike and Molly,” the entire plot revolved around how long it would take each of the daughters to decide it was time to end their mother’s life, which pretty much depended upon who was inheriting what.
And some of it was pretty darn funny.
All of it might have been funny if I had not finished updating my will, having my Medical Directive notarized, and designated my Medical Power of Attorney just that afternoon.
Timing is indeed everything.
Nevertheless, none of us are getting any younger, and in the wise words attributed to, but probably not really said by Buddha, “The problem with you is that you think you have time.”
So I’m up on my soapbox today, urging you all to STOP PUTTING THIS OFF! The kindest, most loving thing you can do for your “surviving family” is to have everything spelled out. Your directive, your funeral arrangements, who will get the 1200 beanie babies you collected back in the 90s “as an investment,” and so forth and so on.
My paperwork is done. I’m all set and ready to check out. There will be no indecision, no fighting, no second guessing, and no confusion in 30 or 40 years when I’m done on this planet.
Until then, it’s full steam ahead!
“There’s good news and there’s bad news…”
So which would you ask for first?
When confronted with that scenario in the cardiologist’s office, I went straight for the jugular. Give me the “bad news” first. And then I lapsed into such a deep shock at that first “results” appointment, I didn’t have the presence of mind to grasp, and even celebrate, all the good news. And there was plenty.
Yes, yes, I’m soon to be having open heart surgery to remove a tumor in my right atrial. A tumor I was “most likely born with” but has now grown to become a nuisance that must be removed. Definitely a case of “ignorance is bliss,” I was going merrily along, living my life, unaware that this tumor… polyp… ugly muffin top… call it what you will, was on the verge of turning me into a blithering puddle of senseless babble, all of which starts with “WHAT IF?”
All that aside, the “GOOD NEWS,” now that I have taken a step back and a deep breath to assist me in hearing more acutely, is this:
So would you just look at all those positives?? Other than an errant myxoma, my heart’s in pretty darn good shape, and taking out the little bugger will be a lot like taking out a gall bladder… except for the lengthier recovery time. They’ll take it out, I’ll mend, and then I’ll go on with my life even better than before.
That’s the plan, and I’m sticking to it.
“So tell me again—” I asked the cardiologist. “Just how big is the myxoma?”
The cardiologist began speaking as he waited for the information to come up on his computer screen. “Last week, when we did the regular Echocardiogram, we had tentative measurements, but by doing the Transesophageal Echo and the CAT scan we were able to get a much better idea of its size.”
He paused while he clicked the mouse a few more times. “The TEE measurement is 3.3 x 2.2 centimeters, and the CAT scan, which is probably the most accurate, is 3.2 x 1.8 centimeters.”
I know enough about the metric system to know that 2.5 centimeters is about an inch. So this “hopefully benign” tumor living in the right side of my heart—up in the atrial—is about an inch and a quarter long and three-quarters of an inch wide, tethered to the septum between the upper chambers.
“It’s like an elongated ping-pong ball,” said the doctor. “With every pump of your heart, it bounces back and forth.”
I’m sure I turned 50 shades of pale.
“Don’t worry,” he continued, “it’s not going to tear loose. It’s going to take a surgeon’s knife to get it out of there.”
Swell. Just swell. And the alternative is to do nothing but “hope” that the tumor, roughly the size of the last joint of my thumb, never gets enough congealed blood on it to create prime conditions for a cardiac arrest.
So today I’m taking copious amounts of iron and folic acid and vitamin C and blood thinners and so forth in preparation for a very unexpected intrusion into my chest cavity. At least it will be under “controlled” circumstances and not as the result of an “attack” of any sort.
And for that, I’m very grateful.
Moments before my “TEE”—Transesophogeal Echocardiogram—I took inventory of those in my curtained cubicle. Kat (short for Kathleen) was in charge of the IV sedation. Bryant had the controls on the monitor for the scope that the doctor would soon be putting down my throat. When Todd, my regular clinic nurse, popped in, I asked him what his official function was.
“Moral support,” he said with a cheery smile. “What do you need?”
From somewhere deep inside me a little voice replied, “Please hold my toes.”
Todd immediately took hold of both my feet, which were covered by a blanket, but still accessible. “How’s that?” he asked, giving them a solid squeeze.
Tears started running down my cheeks.
Years ago, when I began attending all Rick’s cardio doctor appointments and procedures, he had always asked me to hold his toes. I thought the request was a little odd, but did his bidding without question. Now, when the tables were turned, and it was my time to submit to the scans and probes, I found myself automatically reciting his words.
And when Todd took hold of my toes, a sudden wave of calm washed over me. A wave of peace—the comfort and compassion of human connection. I knew without a doubt there was a human being in the room who cared more about my emotional well-being than about any of the numbers on a beeping digital monitor.
“I’ll stay with you until you fall asleep,” said Todd, “but I’ll be gone when you wake up. I have to go to work, but you’re in good hands.”
The warmth in his words was almost as palpable as the warmth I could feel in my feet.
“Thank you,” I whispered as I drifted off. “Now I understand.”